The Chronicle regrets the error.
That’s what we write when we issue a correction. Why? Once the article is updated, why even note that it was corrected? Who cares about The Chronicle’s regret? Well, for one, it’s transparent. It lets the readers know that prior information in the article was false. It also expresses wrongdoing and it accepts responsibility for that wrongdoing.
You've probably seen that correction in the pages of The Chronicle often enough that it's lost its meaning. But, to me, these words are some of the most meaningful words we print.
Former Chronicle columnist Matthew King put it best when he wrote that we were living in a “remorseless age.” At a national or global level, the zeitgeist is to avoid showing weakness. But, are Americans, as individuals, actually remorseless? Of course not. We feel guilt and shame all the time. But I think sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to feel it enough.
For the past four years, I’ve seen and reported on the goings on at the University. It’s been the greatest experience of my life. I’ve gotten to write about people who are passionate about their school and their community, accomplished amazing feats and inspired us to work harder.
But, I’ve also gotten to see us be complacent. I’ve seen us criticize Greek life at Duke all day long and at the end of that day, go home to our Greek section. Or say we don’t believe in hyperexclusivity, yet participate complicity in organizations that promote a hyperexclusive culture. Or probably the most frequent, say we don’t believe in sexism or racism but stand silently by as we watch other students or workers be degraded by those systems.
I’ve always thought that the worst thing in this life is to be apathetic. Since coming to Duke, I’ve realized that the second worst thing is to be complacent. Being apathetic is not having values. Being complacent is not acting in accordance with your values. And in so many ways, when we allow ourselves to be complacent, we become complicit in structures that hurt others. If The Chronicle has taught me anything, it’s to constantly ask myself, ‘how am I complicit in things I inherently don’t believe in?’
I will be the first person to admit that I am complicit in global human trafficking or climate change because of the products I use. Or that I am complicit in the perpetuation of oppressive racist systems in our society. Or in participating in that millennial trope of neglecting my family. Or in propagating a culture obsessed with celebrity—yes, I watch The Daily Mail on Snapchat almost every day.
I can admit these things not because I am shameless. It’s quite the opposite. I am filled with shame for these things. I feel bad for being complicit in these ways and more.
But, I’ve accepted that it’s ok to feel bad. That’s the hard part. We don’t want to think that we’re not inherently good—if I’m complicit in all of these things, aren’t I… bad? What I’ve learned at The Chronicle is that accepting you have been “bad” is necessary for you to be better.
Because, ultimately, “The Chronicle regrets the error” is a moment of reflection. After three (sometimes more) rounds of editing, how did we make a mistake? After all, isn’t that what regret is about—How did we get here and how do we move forward?
Likhitha Butchireddygari is a Trinity senior and digital strategy director. She was editor in chief of the Chronicle's 113th volume. She would like to thank her partner-in-crime Frances, her mentors Chrissy Beck and Dean Rachael Murphey-Brown, and her friends for a spectacular four years.
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